13 April 2009

The demons who caper in O'Brien's "moral abyss"

I confess, sometimes I hate Christianity. For the rest, I simply actively, absolutely and utterly repudiate it. The Old Testament is a catalogue of obscenities and half-baked poetics. I disbelieve in the divinity of Christ. I certainly cannot fathom the God of classical theism, nor can I see why any atheist or agnostic would wish the God of Testaments to exist. A hunger for an afterlife I find more readily appreciable. Deistic sensibilities that might see in the firmament or in the cosmic architecture something which suggests a first cause and a fashioner, while not commending themselves to my own senses, at least do not categorically repel. Christianity, however, with its greedy, fingering God - an inwardly tearing personal spirit - I've never been apt to stomach.

So I have little sympathy with the small, enshrouded men who conspire to look reverent and merciful, whether their jibs are cut along Protestant or Catholic lines. Their conscientious interjections in public discourse - smoothly and greasily fingering their crucifixes - however, are typically enough to drive me to the sin of anger. At times even shoving me off the precipice of rage.

I refer, obliquely to "Cardinal" Keith O'Brien's Easter suggestion that our society is a Narcissistic peeper, hovering over a "moral abyss". I don't mean to deny that life has its problems, or indeed that some problems do have a moral dimension about which we can properly entertain discussion and attempt to influence others by argument and reflection.

However, don't lets fool ourselves by taking the Cardinal's beatific smile for granted.

The devils O'Brien finds so unconscionable are divorcees, fornicators, homosexuals, co-habitants - not to mention his utterly greedy and self-serving attacks in 2006 on the institution of civil partnerships:
"When our lawmakers condone and endorse trends in society which are ultimately ruinous of family life we are entitled to question their motivation and condemn their behaviour."
It would all be more interesting if it was less typical. From what I can see, the section concerning marriage amounts to a hegemonic insistence - of a purely authoritarian kind - that the god-bothering conception must dominate public life - that all other and new and innovating redefinitions are a sort of inauthenticity. Or in the alternative, the marriage is somehow "attacked" or weakened by the raw existence of legal recognition of the complexities of co-habitation and the commitment of those who may not fit into the "man + woman = family" category he so drearily and oppressively lauds. The grubby rag the Cardinal reaches for to conceal his own nakedness is the vague notion of "traditional" ideas, whatever the hell they are.

Ponder, for a moment, the magnitude of the claim O'Brien makes. We are, he says, denying children objective truth. Crucially, he knows what that objective truth is. There is no arguing here, since that truism is fixed and immoveable. So categorical is it that all one can do, once one has perceived it, is to submit to its necessity. I repeat, the devils he sees dancing - those who he would frown-facedly condemn as rebels against his imagined "Objective truth" - are those who do not fit into the wholly conservative vision of family, who shag without a ring on their finger, who are cheerful boozers. Or at least, those who do so without a cassock or a wimple to justify their wholly abnormal tenor of existence or their uncharacteristic sexual repression.

Not, certainly, that I would wish to valourise any model of normality. People's lives operate with much variety, and I for one feel unwilling to draft a clear and absolute demonology by means of which each person in every condition can be allotted their place and cleanly judged. He continues - warming to his Faustian theme that
“Like the manic sorcerer whose spells have gone disastrously wrong, our politicians cannot control the urge to cast yet more spells upon the chaos. It is an approach that seems to be driven by moral cowardice.”
Screw that. And screw you Cardinal O'Brien. Fawning and feigned mercifulness, matched with public denunciation and narrow-beamed conservatism. Its loathsome. Think of how many people this evangelical brute - who is credited with any number of good things because he has pissed out his life against the wall on the basis of his imagined and flagellating divinity - condemns in the name of his self-satisfied and wholly man-spun objectivity. Think how high-handed, yet comfortable of conscience he would be, were he the one wielding the sceptre of power - or to borrow his own metaphor - taking his chance to quiet the whirlwind with his pious remonstrances.

But think, most of all, how tremendous it is that we live in a country which - by and large - has kicked these greasy old villains, these evil old men, out of public life. In the scorching heat of public indifference, it is my heartfelt hope, that the scaly lizard of domineering piety dries up once and for all and we will be free of these ruddy clerics and their smug "objective truths" at last.


  1. Sorry he's a Catholic why would anyone who had any common sense listen to him or any other christian - bunch of feckin liars - the lot of them.

  2. My comment above is not about left footers, or any Glasgowesque religous bigotry, I just can't stand these god botherers from Jerusalem, Rome or anywhere else claiming to be the Messiah's best mate, it's all a con, they're devil worshippers and control freaks - NAMASTE


  3. We've had the Catholics and the English church bishops prating on about morality, football on Easter Sunday as well as the hatred for Christians. This persecution mania gets up my nose primarily because it is self evidently not true (although these bigots know all about persecution). But look at the recent few days of news about these unco guid men - the English bishop of Rochester is resigning just as it's coming out that his diocese children's home forcibly drugged girls in their care; the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin has warned about a child abuse scandal breaking; the Catholics excommunicate those who sought an abortion for a 9 year old made pregnant by her step father and it goes on. How can these fecking hypocrites talk about morality with the millstones of wickedness around their necks? Doesn't their 'good' book say something about those without sin casting the first stone? If I wasn't an atheist I'd want them to burn in hell for their hypocrisy. As it is the more public scorn heaped on them the better.

  4. We have to be a little careful here. Somehow we need to protect our beliefs and culture. Like you Lallands I have no use for regulated religion but I do feel something is needed to protect us from those who have the ambition of imposing their religious beliefs upon us. If we don't then we're sitting ducks.

  5. Well to a point subrosa, but what precisely do you think Cardinal O Brien is trying to do? He is the leader of a minority within a minority since as far as I can see most folk in Scotland, let alone Britain, neither want nor need someone from a flawed source telling them what to do. He is trying to impose the teachings of his particular sect on us and for myself, I want no part of any supernatural code of morality. Basic humanism will do nicely thank you.